Many of us Santa Barbarans know, given our proximity to the “promised land” itself, that LA is the mecca for performers of all genres who are trying to stake their professional futures. Of the thousands of young performers and comics there who aim to make a living with their art, many spend years searching for the “big break” that will catapult them from the comedy club scene to the national stage, or even their own comedy show on television. Daniel Tosh, a 34 year-old comedian, is one of those hard-working Angelenos. He left his home of Florida after graduating from University of Central Florida to begin the arduous task and journey of getting his name out there.
Tosh started out touring on the comedy club circuit and then, in 1998, he appeared as one of the New Faces in the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. His casual style and irreverent sensibility got Tosh noticed, and he was invited to return to the Montreal festival two years later in his own televised Gala at the St. Denis Theatre. In addition, Tosh has also performed at festivals in New Zealand and Kilkenny, Ireland, one of Europe’s largest comedy festivals, as well as at HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
Daniel Tosh made his network debut on The Late Show With David Letterman, and has returned to perform several times since. Tosh also appeared multiple times on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. His previous television credits include The Late, Late Show With Craig Kilborn, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Call With Carson Daly, Premium Blend (Comedy Central), The Best Week Ever (Vh-1), The Test (Fx) and Friday Night Stand-Up (Comedy Central). In 2002, he taped his first stand up special, Comedy Central Presents Daniel Tosh, at the Hudson Theatre in New York City. While still living in Florida, Daniel hosted his own popular late-night television show, Tens.
The growing phenomenon that is You Tube, and the bounty of comedic fodder that it offers sparked Tosh’s new show, Tosh.0 on Comedy Central. Comedy Central wanted to develop an online-based comedy show, and Tosh’s style fit the bill. The show is centered on finding the “stars” of the web and then either redeeming them or perpetuating their antics. The rise of viral media giants Facebook and Twitter have also given Tosh a boost among his audience.
Despite the success of his show, Tosh’s stand-up performance will be different than the content of his Tosh O. I spoke with Tosh before he started his tour and got a bit of insight into what makes this comedian tick.
Your show Tosh O. is the second most watched cable network show in its time slot among 18-34 year old men. First, what does that say about the women who watch your show? And second, how much credit do you give to Facebook and Twitter for its growing popularity?
Both Facebook and Twitter have given us the interaction with fans and given them the opportunity to feel like they are part of the show. They have also obviously realized that the meaner they are, the more likely they are to be mentioned on the show. It’s pretty funny. In terms of the women that watch the show, it’s great that there are women that want to see someone behave the way I do for a half hour.
You were born in Germany, and moved to Florida. Do you speak German?
No. My parents were having sex in Europe and gave birth to me there. I grew up in Florida and went to school there, and ended up going to University of Central Florida.
Did you study acting in college?
No, I wasn’t too into school, I got through it, and then by the time I was finished, I was ready to start getting on the road. I was actually a business and marketing major.
I read that you wanted to grow your acting career. Are you hoping to branch out? Should we expect to see you in a serious role?
(Laughs). Um, no. I actually got a part in The Love Guru, that Mike Myers film. I heard it’s awful. I got a Razzie award for it, which I’m quite proud of, but I still haven’t seen it. I have no plans to branch out.
The web redemption portion of your show is hilarious. Are you inundated with submissions, or do you and your producers find the pieces?
Well, that actually used to be one of the bigger challenges for the show. When I was first starting out with the show, I would find someone with some ridiculous you tube “performance” and I would ask them if I could interview them for the show. Pretty often they were a little reluctant. They were more like, “who are you and why do you want to do this exactly?” Now that people are getting to be a little more familiar with my show, it’s been a bit easier getting these people to agree to be on it. The other part about this that is so funny is that I have opened up the conversation for people to participate on things that I didn’t even think would be that big of a deal, like, what kind of outfit should I wear for next season? I have gotten an insane amount of response, and so far it looks like I’ll be wearing fruit costumes.
Have you ever offended anyone?
I’m sure I have. With one of the web redemptions—the young girl that caught the foul ball and threw it back at the Phillies game—her dad was excited when I asked them to be on my show, but the mom was more “don’t you dare make my daughter look bad.” Which is understandable.
For those people who haven’t watched that one, I highly recommend it, I’ll give the link at the end of the article. The fairy wings you were wearing were divine. Maybe you should wear them permanently.
Obviously you’re no stranger to stand-up, but now that you have your own show on Comedy Central, how much of the web-based material are you planning on incorporating into your tour?
Very little. Sometimes I forget how successful my show has become—my stand-up is obviously still very much “me” and my humor, but the tour is completely different. I never want to cannibalize my act, and I’m really excited that I am going to be able to perform new material. I’m not a huge fan of repeating jokes, and I don’t really do any of my old material from old stand-up acts.
What makes you laugh?
Everything, anything. Life is so funny sometimes. I find people like Dave Attell funny. I don’t know, maybe I’m immature, but I still find it funny if I dump cold water on my girlfriend when she’s in the shower. What’s the Arlington Theater like in Santa Barbara?
Reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, but without the water.
Nice, so should I wear a pirate costume for the show?
Yes, and your fairy wings.
In conversation, onstage, and on his show, Tosh.0 (which can be seen every Wednesday at 10:30pm on Comedy Central), Tosh has proven to be irreverent without being grossly offensive, honest, unabashed and just plain funny. He will be taping new shows for Comedy Central to air starting June 2nd.
Daniel Tosh is performing at the Arlington Theater on Saturday, April 24th. For tickets and information, call 893-3536, visit livenation.com or go to the Arlington Box Office. To get your Tosh fix in advance, go online to danieltosh.com or see some of his antics (specifically the Philly game foul-ball catch) at comedycentral.com.